Clapham South Deep-level Air Raid Shelter

Clapham is one of the most historic parts of London, yet most people know nothing about Clapham’s history. Believe it or not, if you live in Clapham proper, one of the area’s secrets is beneath your feet: literally miles of air raid shelters, over 30 meters down, below the underground.

clapham south deep level shelter - 10You’ll recognise the entrances as those round buildings you’ve probably either wondered what their purpose is, or assumed were part of the tube. Wrongo. They are entrances to underground mini-cities that, when open, would have safely held 8,000 people. That’s even bigger and deeper than Infernos – but probably still better lit.

The London Transport Museum had a major breakthrough recently, receiving permission to open one of Clapham’s many Deep-level Shelters. Built during World War II as air raid shelters against the blitz. We were lucky enough to book tickets for the opening week. Without wanting to give away ‘too’ much, below is a small selection of photos.

It sold out pretty quickly but it is well worth the wait and £30 admission fee – worth every penny. It was a truly memorable experience with outstanding guides. And I hope they get to keep them open so thousands more people can experience Clapham below ground… er, belower ground than the underground and WC that is.
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New Clapham Leisure Centre Open

Clapham has been without a swimming pool for over a year but the new leisure centre (which looks something like the above drawing) is open. And dagnamit, it’s only got a swimming pool with a moving floor to change its depth! This probably entitles Clappers to say we have a ‘state of the art’ leisure centre. It also has a large gym area and a sports hall above it. Fabulous. For those of you going “whaaa? A new leisure centre? In Clapham?” you can find it on Clapham Manor Street next to the equally healthy KFC. Have you been yet, what do you think? Tell everyone below…

Clapham Junction Riots

Monday 8th of August 2011 will be the day all local residents remember wanton violence coming to our much loved streets. Worst hit was the Clapham Junction area around Lavender Hill caught in its early throes in the below video.

Of course, the most familiar image to us all is now the gutted Party Superstore – which Love Clapham has frequented for many a fancy dress party – ablaze.

Other shops were smashed, looted and destroyed in a disgusting abuse of our local area. Clapham High Street was largely unaffected, although Blockbuster near Clapham North has had its windows smashed, and property destroyed and stolen. Love Clapham witnessed a gang of 20 or so hooded youths lurking behind KFC at around 11pm – they may have been entirely innocent, but last night was not the night to be hanging around in gangs.

Riot police eventually turn up en masse captured in this resident’s video:

No one involved had any intentions of delivering a political of social message, they just wanted to enjoy themselves by destroying people’s livelihoods. It was disturbing to watch on television, and terrifying for some of our residents stuck in the thick of the violence. Personally, the worst image for me was that of the young girls in the attack laughing at their friends tearing a TV off the wall in Ladbrokes. Such a depressingly pathetic display of ignorance and stupidity.

But the local community has come together in a tear jerking response as residents supported those affected today with broom in hand to clean up. Something to be proud of. Take care Clappers.

Read more on the following websites:

Let’s hope you have a sense of humour

Bored Clappers. WE HAVE BEEN BORED. With a lack of things to do in the evening in Clapham, us Clappers have had to turn to either binge drinking, paying extortionate prices for meals or jogging around the common. All of which sound good in principle but leave you with an empty, soul destroying feeling afterwards in their own unique ways. So it’s with a massive sigh of relief and a cheer that Love Clapham can announce that The Funny Side… of Clapham Common comedy nights are now every blinkin’ Thursday at the Alexandra on Clapham Common south side (by the bus stops!) Check it out, it’s a bargainous £12.50 and you can still binge drink, eat and perhaps jog home. Wonderful.

Clapham History: past local disasters

Love Clapham has received an email from the disasters historian, John Withington, who has a book out called London Disasters. In the book is a piece on Clapham disasters which is an interesting, if tragic read. In the book John explains how at the Arding & Hobbs store in Clapham Junction (now Debenhams)  in the run-up to Christmas in 1909, a fairy light bulb exploded in the window and set fire to tinsel and cotton wool decorations. Continue reading

Two cult novels by local author

Brixton Clapham author Helen Smith

Exciting news! Local author Helen Smith, who lives on the border of Brixton and Clapham, has just had her two novels based in the area republished ten years after their original release. The first, Alison Wonderland, is about a woman who joins an all-female detective agency in Brixton – it includes a scene on Clapham Common and another in Battersea Park . The second, Being Light, is about a man who flies away on a freak gust of wind while setting up a bouncy castle in Brockwell Park. Love Clapham has managed to get our grubby paws on two signed copies of the books to give away to two Clappers. If you’d like to win them, email in the answer to this question: what other famous female author spent some time living in Clapham? Winner to be announced on Friday 16th July. Learn more about the two books below. Continue reading

Clapham Junction Station revamp scaled back

Clapham Junction Platform

As you may have heard by now, Network Rail has had to cancel a number of major UK station redevelopments after having its £100 million budget reduced in the new Government’s budget cuts. The busiest station in Europe, our very own Clapham Junction, was the first and possibly most high profile of the station improvement works to face the chop. So, the severely run down station will stay that way for a long time to come. Given how bad it is already, Love Clapham dreads to think how it will look over the coming years and that’s not even taking into account safety – some of those platforms are incredibly uneven and dangerous. The London Evening Standard has more details of some works that will still take place, but still, it’s a blow given how many people use this station every single day.

Clapham Junction hotel approved!

Clapham Junction Hotel approved

Well blow me down – will you just look at this Clappers! It’s only the bloomin’ phoenix of an approved hotel rising from the ashes of the rejected plans from last year.  Yep, this revised plan of a seventy room hotel with, from what I can tell, seven floors (it’s actually 8 – thanks Cyril!) has been approved by planners. A fantastic result for all concerned because not only does Clapham Junction receive a much needed development in a tired corner, local residents can now enjoy the service without the worry of the high sky line.

Clapham High Street Fire

Clapham High Street Fire

If you were walking or driving through Clapham on Sunday 4th July you no doubt saw the chaos caused by a fairly severe fire opposite Clapham Common underground station on Clapham High Street. The start of the fire, in the Float Centre health clinic, is under investigation, but The Sun is reporting it may have been started by a sun bed. Thankfully no Clappers were seriously injured although a 70 year old lady was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation and the two ladies photographed had a fairly traumatic experience perched on a second floor window ledge. Well, we do like a bit of drama in Claps, don’t we? (Source: Daily Mail)

Clapham Spring News Round-up

Clapham Common Spring Sunset

Like a big bad pink boyfriend, I have let you down Clapham. Love Clapham simply hasn’t been paying you enough attention recently. With spring in the air however, it’s time for me to bring out the flowers and make things better. Yes, I am going to virtually snog you with an update on the latest Clapham news. Read on dear and loyal Clappers, read on… Continue reading

The White House – 10 years old!

Clapham White House

One of Clapham’s best known night spots and actually one of its landmarks is celebrating its 10th anniversary of business this coming weekend. To help celebrate, The White House has an extravagant line-up of top class acts turning up to kick start the party. In fact, it’s nothing short of amazing with Maxi Jazz of Faithless, Basement Jaxx and The Freemasons all taking their turn to perform and DJ on different nights from Thursday to Sunday. Go to The White House website for all of the information and to buy a three night pass for £20. Love Clapham will definitely be stopping by!

‘No’ to local newspapers through letter boxes

Wandsworth Guardian

If you’ve been following @loveclapham on Twitter you’ll know how annoyed I’m getting with the Wandsworth Guardian. I have a No Junk Mail sticker on my letter box, yet despite this and repeated requests to the newspaper to stop they are still ignoring my sticker and shoving their paper through my door. What’s worse is that it’s a Wandsworth borough newspaper and I couldn’t be further into the Lambeth end of Clapham if I tried. Since moving to Clapham North I’ve received one of these newspapers a week amounting to over 60 papers that have gone straight in the recycling bin. While some people may read it, I’d imagine others don’t want it. The same of all papers forced on people in this way. It’s a waste of money for the companies advertising in it and bad for the environment. Continue reading